OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Nick Swisher gobbled down his postgame lobster meal, then devoured a peppery piece of beef for dessert at his locker before hitting the showers.
“I’m on all-you-can-eat diet,” Swisher said. “Everything you see, you eat.”
After being slowed by a viral infection and batting .188 last month, Swisher is getting stronger each day—having gained back about five pounds—and his swing is as good as ever.
He had a three-run double among his three hits and drove in four runs a night after hitting a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth, and the Oakland Athletics extended their winning streak against Seattle to 14 games with an 11-2 victory over the Mariners on Tuesday night.
If the A’s can complete a sweep Wednesday night, they would match the longest winning streak against a division opponent since divisional play started in 1969, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Braves won 15 straight vs. the Padres in 1974.
“I don’t think anyone can really figure it out,” winning pitcher Kirk Saarloos said. “A lot of it is luck and a lot of it is we’re playing good baseball against one team.”
Marco Scutaro hit a two-run double, an RBI single and drew a bases-loaded walk for a career-high four RBIs as the A’s productive offense helped Saarloos win for the first time in more than two months.
Eric Chavez had an RBI double and Jason Kendall and Frank Thomas each singled in a run in Oakland’s fifth straight win. The first-place A’s remained 5 1/2 games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West.
Scutaro is making it hard on the A’s to move him back to the bench when shortstop Bobby Crosby returns from the disabled list, perhaps as soon as Wednesday.
A fabulous fill-in during his three seasons in Oakland, Scutaro hit a sharp double down the left-field line in the second after Jay Payton singled and Swisher doubled. One out later, Kendall singled in another run to give Saarloos a nice lead.
Yuniesky Betancourt homered in the fifth for the Mariners, who matched their longest losing streak of the year at six games and are winless so far on their 11-game trip. They have lost 14 straight meetings against Oakland since beating the A’s in the teams’ first game this season 6-2 on April 6 at Safeco Field— their longest skid ever to a division opponent. If Seattle loses the series finale Wednesday night, it would match the club’s longest streak against any team in franchise history.
The club record for consecutive losses against a single opponent is 15 to the Boston Red Sox during the 1977-78 seasons. Seattle has dropped 15 in a row against the division.
Oakland loaded the bases against Joel Pineiro (7-11) with one out in the first but came up empty-handed. Mark Kotsay and Milton Bradley hit back-to-back singles and advanced on a wild pitch before Thomas drew a walk. Chavez then grounded into an inning-ending double play to end the threat.
Pineiro, winless in last four starts and has lost his last three outings, didn’t get out of the fourth after allowing five straight baserunners with two outs—consecutive walks to Kotsay and Bradley followed by run-scoring hits from Thomas and Chavez before another walk to Jay Payton.
Jake Woods relieved and immediately gave up Swisher’s bases-clearing double to left.
“Every ground ball found a hole and then I got wild,” Pineiro said. “Nothing clicked. I’ve been trying everything. It’s definitely not my year. I got frustrated in the first inning with two runners on and one. I got the double play and I figured, let’s go. Then it’s back to the same old thing the next inning. It falls down again. Every start has been frustrating.”
Saarloos (5-6), pitching on six days’ rest after making his last relief appearance Aug. 8 against Texas, worked ahead in the count and used his effective sinkerball to keep Seattle’s batters off balance in his first victory since June 10 at Yankee Stadium.
A’s manager Ken Macha hoped to get 75 to 80 pitches from Saarloos and he threw 82 over six strong innings—around 65 sinkerballs. Saarloos, who made his 11th start after beginning the season in the bullpen, allowed eight hits and two runs, didn’t walk a batter and struck out one.
“That’s probably as sharp as my sinker has been all year,” he said.
Seattle’s Adrian Beltre extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a sixth-inning RBI single.
Kotsay, back in the starting lineup after nursing back spasms the past seven games, extended his hitting streak to 14 games with the first-inning single.
The A’s grounded into double plays to end each of the first, second and third innings. They had another double play in the fourth. … Saarloos will likely make another start Sunday at Kansas City. … Thomas has 1,535 career RBIs, two shy of tying Joe DiMaggio for 39th on the career list. … Saarloos beat the Mariners in his only other start against them this season May 18.